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Earth- 1970

The Lunar Mission was launched in order for the dark side of the Moon to be examined in detail. It had always intrigued scientists. What would it look like? What would they find? The questions perplexed scientists for decades. Now, they finally had the technology to execute their mission.

Three Astronauts were chosen. The Mission Commander was an Air Force Captain, Gil Hodges. Capt. Hodges was in his mid-thirties, and stood a solid 6’2” and weighed 180lbs. The second in command was a Lieutenant in the Marine Corps, Martin Milner, another man in his mid-thirties and someone who stood 6’ and weighed 175lbs. The third astronaut was an Ensign in the Navy, Steve Miller. He was a controversial pick due to his age, late twenties. And he stood 6’1” and weighed 195lbs.

The mission was set, and the launch date announced. Three weeks. It was enough time for the final preparations to be made, and for emergency procedures to be practiced, in case of failure of any control or engines. The astronauts were ready.

The astronauts got to spend the week before the mission with their families. Gil Hodges was married to his high school sweetheart, Beth. Beth was a beautiful brunette who stood 5’5”, and was the mother of two beautiful twin girls, Maggie and Sarah, aged 10.

Martin Milner was married to a girl he met while in the Naval Academy, Julie, a beautiful blonde who stood 5’7”. Julie was also an Ensign, and the mother of a 12 year old girl named Susan. 

Steve Miller was newly married to a redhead named Wendy, who was slightly older than him. Wendy stood 5’10” and had a daughter from a previous marriage named Nicole, who was 8.

The launch was a day away. The three astronauts said goodbye to their families, and caught their flights to Cape Canaveral in order to prepare for the mission. Once they had arrived, a final briefing took place in which everything was gone over, every scenario played out. Nothing was left to chance. This mission was too important to the scientists at mission control. The anticipation was brutal.

Finally, it was the day of the launch. The three astronauts donned their space suits and entered the capsule part of the three stage rocket. Instruments were checked, comms were established with mission control, and a final rundown of emergency procedures was undertaken. 

After two hours of final preparations, it was time. The countdown started from 10 minutes. The three astronauts were nervous, but excited. They knew the importance of their mission. They were going to make history.

Finally, the countdown reached 1 minute. Anticipation among the flight crew and scientists was running high. There would be no failure. This was going to lead to all kinds of discoveries.

Finally, the countdown reached 10 seconds. The rocket’s engines were firing. Liftoff. The rocket’s thrust propelled the vehicle up through the sky and into space. The three astronauts were stunned by the beauty of the journey, and by how large the moon appeared. It would be three days before they would arrive, but without the atmosphere to distort their view, the moon looked like a giant ball, ready to be touched.

With all systems running perfectly, and with three days journey ahead, the astronauts relaxed and started discussing their own families. Besides being in the military and being astronauts, it was another thing that they had in common.

Commander Gil Hodges started off by saying that his wife, Beth, and their daughters, Maggie and Sarah, were what he valued the most in life. They were his rock. They kept him grounded.

Second in Command Martin Milner agreed. His wife Julie was in line for a promotion to Lieutenant and a transfer to the Naval Security Group at the NSA. But his daughter, Susan, had reached the age where she was becoming more independent, and as a result, more rebellious, which caused some tense, emotional moments at home.

Steve Miller was glad that Wendy had a good handle on his step-daughter, Nicole. Mom and daughter were very close, and Nicole accepted Steve as her father. She always strived to do her best in life, and never caused any issues. 

Commander Hodges moved the dials inside the capsule so that the rocket could approach the dark side of the moon at the correct orientation. Astronaut Miller then positioned a camera that was outside the capsule into the correct formation as to get the best possible pictures. 

The moon was less than a thousand miles away, but due to the speed of the craft, it would take minutes to reach the target area. Anticipation was building. The crew was so focused on getting their position correct that they never saw the space cloud that suddenly surrounded their capsule.

They had been in constant contact with mission control in Houston before the space cloud engulfed their capsule. After the cloud disappeared, they had lost all contact with ground control. The three astronauts quickly discussed whether to abandon their mission and return to earth. The rocket was functioning normally, except for not being able to communicate with Houston. 

They decided to continue their mission. They photographed every area of the dark side. Infrared, Hi-Resolution, X-Ray. They took every possible picture they could. Then they fired their engines in order to line up their capsule with earth, and headed home. They constantly attempted to communicate with ground control, but with no success. If they couldn’t contact Houston, they would execute a blind return and landing of their capsule.

On the way home, they discussed the strange space cloud they encountered. They assumed that the cloud had radioactive properties, and that would explain the loss of communication. But they were puzzled that nothing else was affected.

After an uneventful three day journey home, and still unable to communicate with ground control, Commander Hodges executed his blind re-entry of the vehicle into earth’s atmosphere. 

After what seemed like an eternity, the capsule’s parachutes deployed and the astronauts landed safely in the ocean. However, they landed closer to shore than what was the norm. They opened the capsule hatch, and the three of them were extremely surprised to see people on the beach. They were taught to land in deeper waters and on remote beaches, but this area clearly had beach goers. 

It was then that they noticed a speed boat heading towards them. They found it odd that there was no military ship in the area. All space missions ended with military ships rescuing the astronauts, but there was none to be found.

As the boat got closer, the three astronauts noticed that there were two women on board. They didn’t see any men. But there was something else that seemed a little odd about the approaching boat, but they couldn’t place their finger on it…………….

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